Dialogues and Letters (19 page)

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17
. Apparently a reference to the practice of chaining a prisoner to his guard, with the guard having his left hand bound to the prisoner's right.

18
. From his speech
Pro Milone
92.

19
. Publilius Syrus lived in Rome in the first century
BC
and wrote mimes, from which a selection of maxims has survived.

20
. This Pompey seems to be the consul of
AD
14, and related to the Julian dynasty: hence his relationship with the emperor Gaius.

21
. Prefect of the praetorian guard under Tiberius and executed in
AD
31.

22
. The last king of Lydia (
c
. 560–546
BC
).

23
. King of Numidia, captured and executed by the Romans in 104
BC
.

24
. A fourth-century
BC
Cyrenaic philosopher, known as the ‘Atheist'. The tyrant referred to was Lysimachus, king of Thrace.

25
. We know nothing about him apart from this anecdote.

26
. A sixth-century
BC
tyrant of Acragas, notorious for his cruelty.

27
. A very distinguished philosopher from Ephesus (flourished
c
. 500
BC
).

28
. Consul in 105
BC
and, after conviction on a dubious charge of extortion, exiled to Smyrna.

29
. Hercules cremated himself in unendurable agony from the shirt of Nessus.

30
. Regulus was captured by the Carthaginians in 255
BC
and subsequently tortured to death by them for refusing to co-operate in negotiating with Rome.

31
. Probably the elder Cato (the ‘Censor': 234–149
BC
), a man of legendary strictness and moral austerity.

32
. Scipio Africanus Maior (236–184/3
BC
), the conqueror of Hannibal in the war against Carthage.

33
. He lived 76
BC
–
AD
4, and was a notable politician, poet and historian, as well as an orator.

34
. A great Athenian law-giver and poet, and chief archon in 594/3
BC
.

35
. Head of the Platonic Academy in the mid third century
BC
.

36
. Certain identification is difficult, but the quotation might fit Alcaeus or Anacreon. The Plato reference is to
Phaedrus
245a, and the Aristotle reference is to the pseudo-Aristotelian
Problems
953a.

ON THE SHORTNESS OF LIFE

1
. Paulinus is not certainly identifiable, but it appears from sections 18 and 19 that his job was
praefectus annonae
, overseeing the importing and distribution of corn. He may also have been connected to Seneca through Seneca's wife Paulina.

2
. Hippocrates, who lived around the second half of the fifth century
BC
.

3
. Seneca seems to be confusing Aristotle with his pupil and successor Theophrastus, to whom Cicero attributes this thought (
Tusc
. 3.69).

4
. The quotation has not been identified.

5
. Seneca gives a run-down of Augustus' struggles to establish himself in power and consolidate his empire, from the time of the Civil War (‘fellow-countrymen') to the settlement of the Alpine area (8
BC
). The dates of the conspiracies were: Lepidus 30
BC
, Murena and Caepio 23
BC
, Egnatius 19
BC
.

6
. Julia, notorious for her licentious conduct. Among her adulterous relationships was that with Iullus Antonius (son of the triumvir), which led in 2
BC
to her banishment and his suicide. Hence Seneca's comparison (‘a second formidable woman…') with Cleopatra and the elder Antony, whom Augustus had to deal with in 31
BC
.

7
. Cicero's brother-in-law, to whom he addressed a great many of his letters.

8
. Tribune in 91
BC
: he proposed some revolutionary measures which provoked fierce opposition and led to his assassination.

9
. Virgil,
Georgics
3.66–7.

10
. Papirius Fabianus taught Seneca himself and was much admired by him (Letter 100).

11
. Gaius Duilius, consul in 260
BC
, defeated the Carthaginian fleet in the same year and celebrated the first naval triumph.

12
. For Dentatus see n.
10
to
Tranq
. Seneca refers to his triumph over Pyrrhus in 275
BC
.

13
. Appius Claudius Caudex, consul in 264
BC
.

14
. As consul in 263
BC
he captured Messana in Sicily from the Carthaginians.

15
. During his praetorship in 97
BC
. Bocchus was king of Mauretania.

16
. This was the occasion of the opening of Pompey's theatre (the first stone theatre in Rome) in 55
BC
.

17
. The ‘somebody reporting which Roman general…' above. Lucius Caecilius Metellus captured the Carthaginian war elephants in Sicily in 250
BC
.

18
. The religious boundary of a city, beyond which the auspices could not be taken.

19
. Seneca pinpoints the characteristic features of the main philosophical creeds: Socratic argumentation; the scepticism of Carneades, head of the Platonic Academy in the mid second century
BC
; Epicurean quietism; Stoic self-control; the extreme self-denial of the Cynics.

20
. Xerxes, on his expedition against the Greeks in 480
BC
.

21
. Gaius Marius was a major military and political figure in the later second and early first centuries
BC
: the first of his many consulships was in 107.

22
. Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus was traditionally appointed dictator in 458
BC
to fight the Aequi. The second dictatorship referred to here is historically suspect.

23
. Scipio Africanus Maior (236–184/3
BC
) defeated Hannibal in 202 and Antiochus, king of Syria, in 189. Seneca refers to Scipio's forbidding his bust to be set up in the temple of Jupiter and to his withdrawal into exile following political attacks on himself and his brother Lucius.

24
. Apparently one of the emperor Gaius' whims was to emulate Xerxes' bridging of the Hellespont (cf. n. 20) by building a bridge of boats from Baiae to Puteoli. This caused a shortage of provisions, as there were insufficient boats left to import corn.

25
. Tacitus (
Ann
. 1.7) mentions him holding the post of
praefectus annonae
, so the story is particularly appropriate for Paulinus.

26
. This was the practice with children, who were buried at night.

LETTERS

LETTER 24

1
. The list of examples is characteristic of Seneca and other rhetorical and moralizing writers. P. Rutilius Rufus was consul in 105
BC
and exiled in 92. Q. Metellus Numidicus, consul in 109, was exiled in 100. The story of C. Mucius Scaevola dates to the war between the Romans and the Etruscans around the end of the sixth century. Socrates died in prison in 399.

2
. Cato fought on Pompey's side in the Civil War, and committed suicide in 46. The dialogue of Plato was the
Phaedo
, which recounts the last hours of Socrates.

3
. Q. Metellus Scipio was another Pompeian commander, defeated at Thapsus in 46.

LETTER 57

1
. In Letter 53 Seneca records that he was horribly seasick on the voyage to Baiae, a fashionable holiday resort. So, to avoid repeating the experience, he returns by an alternative route, a tunnel built in the time of Augustus to connect Naples and Puteoli.

LETTER 79

1
. Now Taormina, on the eastern coast of Sicily.

2
. ‘Live unnoticed' was Epicurus' motto, representing his ideal of the quiet life away from the hurly-burly of public affairs. Metrodorus of Lampsacus was one of his most distinguished pupils.

LETTER 110

1
. Nomentum is the modern Mentana, about 14 miles from Rome, where Seneca had a villa.

2
. Kinds of attendant spirit (like our ‘guardian angel'), who looked after the individual man's or woman's fortunes.

3
. From
De Rerum Natura
2.55–6.

4
. A Stoic philosopher and one of Seneca's teachers.

from
NATURAL QUESTIONS

PRAEF. 1–10

1
. Virgil,
Aeneid
4.404, from a simile describing ants.

4A. 2. 4–6

1
. Egypt was part of the Persian Empire from 525 to 332
BC
.

INDEX

Abelard, Peter
xviii

acceptance: of circumstances
46
;

of human failings
xxi
,
54–5

accounting for time
61–2

accumulation of misfortunes
19

Achilles
35

adoption
77

adultery with Julia Livilla,

Seneca's alleged
viii
,
xxii

Aeneas
10

afterlife
82

agricultural imagery
57
,
66

Agrippina
viii

aims, personal
40–41
,
46
,
50
,
60
,
61–2

air
94
; fiery (
pneuma
)
xiv

Alcestis
27

alcohol
56
,
58
,
60
,
65

Alexandria, Library of
45

ambition
19
,
28
,
44
,
54
,
60
,
108

Ambrosian Codex
x
,
xi

ancestors' simplicity of life
15

animals: fights in Circus
74–5
; lifespan
59
; men like ants
109

annona
80–81
,
82

Antenor
10

anticipation
68
,
78–9
,
87
;
see also
procrastination

Antonius, Iullus
63

ants
109

anxiety
xix
,
87–92
;
see also
fear

apathy
33

aphorisms
xi
,
xxiii

Apicius (gourmet)
15–16

Apocolocyntosis
x

appearance: personal
22
,
72
;

seeing beyond
7
,
88

Arcesilas
58

Aristides
20

Aristotle
xv
,
58
,
59
n3,
76

armour
44

army
see
military imagery
;
military service

art collections
71

Asia, province of
9

association of ideas
xx

Athenodorus
36–7
,
41

Athens
9
,
39–40
;
see also
Socrates

Attalus (Stoic philosopher)
xiii
,
xx
,
103–4

auctions
71

audit of life
61–2

Augustine of Hippo, St
xvii

Augustus, Emperor
62–3

aunt, Seneca's
vii
,
26–8

autobiographical information in letters
xii

avarice
xv
,
65

Aventine Hill
75

Bacon, Sir Francis, Baron Verulam
xix

Bacon, Roger
xviii

Baiae, journey from
93–4

banquets
14
,
30
,
72

barber's shop
72

bias in self-appraisal
32

Bion
42
,
54

birth, noble or humble
46

Black Sea, Greek colonies
9

blood, sight of
94

Bocchus, king of Mauretania
74

books, ownership of
45

boredom
33–6
,
91
,
92

boundaries
61
,
109

bridge of boats, Gaius'
81

Bruttium
35

Brutus, Marcus Junius
11
,
13
,
14

buildings: collapse
48
,
112
;

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